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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Media Advisory
May 6, 2011
For More Information
Contact: Gretl Plessinger
Communications Director
(850) 488-0420

National Correctional Employees Week

Correctional Employees Week

This first week in May is national Correctional Employees Week.

“Florida’s correctional employees in prisons and in our communities work bravely and tirelessly in hazardous conditions for the benefit of the citizens of Florida,” says Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss. “I cannot fully express how proud I am of the Department’s approximately 30,000 employees who do so much for their communities and for our great State. For these reasons I urge all Floridians to extend thanks and gratitude to all correctional employees throughout the state.”

Due to the combined efforts of corrections employees, the Department has continued to achieve successes in public safety and inmate reentry during this challenging economic time. Crime rates are dropping and admissions into prison have dramatically decreased.

To commemorate our week of statewide recognition, we hope to honor all DC employees, from line staff to leadership, by spotlighting a few individuals who exemplify who we are and what we do as a Department.

This week we will be showcasing individuals who represent the many hundreds of DC employees who work with sustained dedication to maintain public safety in our communities.

Officer Tracy Pinkston | Putnam Correctional Institution

Officer Tracy Pinkston does whatever it takes to get the job done and if that means doing the job of two officers, she’ll do it without complaint.

Officer Pinkston’s actual job is supervising all inmates who work on the “inside grounds” crew. She ensures the grass is mowed, weeds are pulled and the compound is clean each day with no issues. But when a fellow officer had to take extended sick leave, Officer Pinkston stepped right up to fill in as the property room sergeant. Officer Pinkston always gets the job done.

The position of work squad officer is demanding in its own right. To add the responsibilities of backup property room sergeant to Officer Pinkston’s daily tasks would overwhelm many employees, but unscheduled inspections of the property room have detected no issues.

Officer Pinkston takes it all in stride. Dedication, professionalism and self-motivation are the benchmarks established by Officer Tracy Pinkston; benchmarks which have gained her the respect of her co-workers and inmates working under her supervision.

Officer Deborah Denson | Cocoa Work Release Center

Sixteen year veteran, Officer Deborah Denson changes peoples’ lives. From taking on additional work to training younger employees to establishing community partnerships, Officer Deborah Denson does it with ease. But what makes her extraordinary is what she does to help inmates reenter society.

As an employment officer, her job is essential to the Work Release program. In order for the facility to operate, inmates assigned to the program must have employment and Officer Denson seeks out that employment. This requires she maintain close ties with local business owners and managers, urging them to provide opportunities to a segment of society that is often shunned as undesirable.

Despite the economic downturn, Officer Denson has remained focused and steadfast in her efforts to ensure the inmates gain employment and are successful in the program. Her hard work pays off as she manages to maintain an employment percentage rate of nearly 80%. She is committed to ensuring the inmates at Cocoa Work Release Center are provided opportunities to grow and become law abiding citizens.

Scheduling transportation, arranging work schedules, interviews and appointments for inmates is a never-ending job. It requires long hours, patience and the ability to communicate effectively with a multitude of people on a daily basis.

Officer Denson also provides inmates with the opportunity to give back to the community. She has orchestrated thousands of hours of inmate service to the not-for-profit, charitable organization, “The Sharing Center.” This organization provides services to the homeless, less fortunate and hungry in our community.

Not only is Officer Denson a respected member of the staff at Cocoa Work Release, she is also a vital member of the community as well. Her philanthropic efforts are exhibited in her outreach to the public through church and community activities. She is selfless and tireless in her care for others.

Lieutenant Scott Grundeis | South Florida Reception Center

Not a day goes by that Lieutenant Scott Grundeis isn’t looking for ways to improve South Florida Reception Center, its staff and inmates. Lt. Grundeis began his career with the Department of Corrections in 1986 and is currently the outside grounds lieutenant in charge of community work squads and institutional grounds maintenance.

These work squads save Florida taxpayers thousands of dollars each year. Lieutenant Grundeis strives to have a good relationship with the surrounding agencies, his subordinates, and his supervisors. He is often tasked with additional job duties and completes them quickly and efficiently, without complaint.

Recently, Lieutenant Grundeis was tasked with the repair of a security fence that was damaged in a storm. Lt. Grundeis immediately got to work, working late each evening and over the weekend to ensure completion.

Lieutenant Grundeis is a true Leader; he leads by example and goes above and beyond to ensure that South Florida Reception Center is always at its best. It’s an honor to work with such a loyal, dedicated, consummate professional.

Officer Philip Lebowitz | Everglades Correctional Institution

From interviewing inmate gang members to seizing dangerous contraband items, to constructing a greenhouse, it’s all in a days work for Everglades Correctional Institution Officer Philip Lebowitz.

Officer Lebowitz does everything he can to keep the prison safe. Hired in 2007, he has discovered contraband cigarettes, cell phones and drugs.

On April 25, 2011 while conducting a shower search he noticed a string coming out of a shower vent. Upon further inspection, Officer Lebowitz discovered a homemade weapon attached to the string. The weapon was approximately 8 inches in length, sharpened to a point, with a belt for a handle.

Officer Lebowitz was recognized, last year, for his work ethic and assigned to the institutional tool cart. Upon assuming his new duties, Officer Lebowitz completed 200 work orders during his first two weeks.

Officer Lebowitz continues to go above and beyond his normal duties. He constructed a green house for an institutional horticulture program, relocated the property room, and added a podium to the center gate area for the gate officer.

Officer Lebowitz is also an active member of the Security Threat Group Team and has made contributions in identifying gang members. Officer Lebowitz is a bright, respectful, dedicated professional who strives to make the Institution better and is always eager to assist in any way he can.

Sergeant Penny Mann | Charlotte Correctional Institution

Sergeant Penny Mann comes to work every day looking for ways to make Charlotte Correctional Institution a little better than it was the day before. Mastering a variety of posts since she began her career in 2002, she is currently assigned to Charlotte CI’s medical transport post. But regardless of the job, Sergeant Mann is always the first to volunteer to learn new assignments. Sergeant Mann comes to work ready to help others and learn.

Over the years many Wardens, Assistant Wardens, and Colonels have come and gone at Charlotte CI, and all of them over the last 9 years have turned to Sergeant Mann to assist them in their duties. Whether it is a TEA looking for guidance, a fellow Sergeant needing some assistance, or an Administrator looking for information to meet a deadline, Sergeant Mann always gives 110 percent.

Sergeant Mann has not been fazed over the years with all of the different jobs that she has had to master. She is the Officer that you can always count on even for the toughest assignments. Sergeant Mann works tirelessly to achieve our goal, to make sure that Charlotte Correctional is run safely, securely and efficiently.

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